Marketing at the time of Demonetisation

Even when this piece is a bit in the past there is no doubt that digital wallets in India are the greatest benefactors of the country’s move to demonetisation. The distress over never ending queues outside banks and ATMs has translated to 7 million transactions worth Rs.120 crore a day for Paytm, India’s leading digital wallet. With shops declining to accept 500 and 1000 denomination notes, India is witnessing a rise in non-cash transactions. The golden era of digital wallets has finally dawned.

The very next day of 500 and 1000 denomination recall Paytm came up with ‘Ab ATM nahi, Paytm karo’. This instant recognition and monetisation of the demonetisation market opportunity helped it cross USD 5 billion GMV sales, four months ahead of its target. The knack and speed with which Paytm responded to the demonetisation drive helped them as well as many others especially the small vendors. The easiness in setting up a Paytm account as well as the speed of carrying out transactions were an instant hit. No hassle of ordering a card swipe machine, zero waiting period and ease of transaction contributed to the fast adoption of this digital wallet. India being the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, the adoption drive was a cakewalk. As of now, there have being no reports of Paytm or any other such e-wallet companies evangelising small vendors but there are reported instances of customers advising vendors to take up e-wallets for transactions. But, Paytm’s marketing strategy is laudable. The morning following demonetization, India woke up to Modi’s smiling face above the catch phrase ‘Ab ATM nahi, Paytm karo’ reminding us of a similar picture promotion of Jio launch. The advertisement at the time went through a short term controversy with people debating over whether Modi endorsed Jio, was it with the permission of the GOI that the telecom provider used its PM’s image, whether it is legal to use the image of the ruling PM to endorse any private company and its offerings and much more. These questions were buried in the sands of time and neither was any notice sent nor action taken against the company. Then, once the day dawned Paytm found its opportunity, it played JIO’s wild card, and after all, nothing happened to the giant. The front page did turn heads and make headlines, Kejriwal’s contempt fueled awareness and we despite living under the largest of rocks got to know that Paytm is out in the market seizing the new found opportunity.

Did it pay off? Yes, it definitely did. How else would it achieve its 5 billion GMV sales, four months ahead of its target? Demonetisation benefits, if any, for the Indian public will only be known in a few years but it was for sure a harbinger of prosperity for the Indian digital wallet and e payment systems. Despite the sales of e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon taking a hit due to loss of CoD for a short while, they are positive about the rise of non-cash payments in the days to come.

As for the digital wallets, Ache din toh aa gaye hain!

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